Seven Family Dinners Under $5 Each

September 1, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Frugal Meals · 1 Comment 

Most frugal moms are finding that prices just keep going up every time they go to the grocery store. It’s getting harder every week to feed our families on a budget. But there are still meals to be made for less than $5 for a family of four. Here’s a week’s worth of such meals to help you feed your family without spending a small fortune on food.

Hot Dogs & Chili

1 pkg. hot dogs, 99¢
1 can chili, $1
1 pkg. hot dog buns, 99¢
Potato chips, $1.84

Place hot dogs in a small pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil until plump. Heat chili in a separate pan. Place hot dog in bun, add mustard, ketchup, onions, cheese or other condiments as desired.

TOTAL COST: $4.82

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Loaded Baked Potatoes

4 large potatoes, 50¢
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese, 90¢
1/2 head broccoli, cut into large chunks, 85¢
1 can chili, $1

Preheat oven to 400° F. Scrub potatoes with a vegetable brush. Poke about four holes in potatoes with a fork. Cover each potato with foil adding 1 t. water before sealing tightly. Place on baking pan and bake for about 1 hour until tender. Place broccoli in microwave safe dish. Cover with 2 T. water. Cook on high 4 minutes or until tender. Heat chili in small pot on stove until hot. Slice potatoes in half, add broccoli and chili. Top with cheese.

TOTAL COST: $3.25

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Southern Pinto Beans & Cornbread

2 c. (1 lb.) dry pinto beans, $1.05
1 1/2 T. salt, minimal
1 t. pepper, minimal
2 c. self-rising cornmeal mix, 16¢
1 1/4 c. buttermilk, 28¢
1/4 c. vegetable oil, 16¢
1 large egg, 13¢

Cull beans by removing rocks, stems, etc. Rinse. Place in large pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil. Blanch by draining and rinsing. Return to pot and cover with water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about four hours until beans are tender. Stir occasionally and add more water if needed to keep beans covered. If beans are too thick, add more water.

Cornbread

Preheat oven to 425 ° F. Pour 1 T. of the oil in a 10″ cast iron or heavy baking pan. Heat skillet in oven while you mix remaining ingredients. Combine cornmeal mix, buttermilk and egg. Mix just until blended, do not over beat. Remove hot skillet from oven and pour oil into batter. Mix until ingredients are moistened. Batter will be slightly lumpy. Pour batter into skillet. Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Serve with onion wedges and butter or margarine for cornbread, if desired.

TOTAL COST: $1.78

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Five Layer Mexican Dip

This may sound like an appetizer but it’s filling enough to serve as an entree!

1 lb. ground turkey, (can used beef, if desired), $1.19
Taco seasoning, 39¢
1 16 oz. can refried beans, 69¢
1/2 c. salsa, 50¢
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese, 90¢
1 med. tomato, chopped, 30¢
1/2 bag tortilla chips, 98¢

Brown ground turkey, drain. Return to skillet and add taco seasoning. Mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Layer in bottom of 13″ x 9″ pan. Cover with refried beans, salsa, cheese and tomato. Serve with tortilla chips.

TOTAL COST: $4.95

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Chili Mac & Cheese

1 lb. ground turkey, (can used beef, if desired), $1.19
1 pkg. chili seasoning, 39¢
1 16 oz. can pinto beans, drained, 69¢
1 16 oz. can tomatoes, drained, 69¢
1 pkg. macaroni & cheese, 39¢

Brown ground turkey, drain. Return to skillet and add chili seasoning, pinto beans and tomatoes. Mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Prepare macaroni and cheese according to package directions. Add to chili and mix well. Cook over low heat until thoroughly hot. Serve immediately.

TOTAL COST: $3.35

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Potato Soup

8 large potatoes, peeled and cubed, $1
1 med. onion, chopped, 25¢
1 can evaporated milk, 89¢
water

Place potatoes in large pot. Cover with water, bring to boil. Add onion, milk and enough water to fill pot at least 3/4 full. Mix well. Return to boil, reduce heat and simmer until thick and bubbly. Serve with crackers or cornbread, if desired.

TOTAL COST: $2.14

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Skillet Meat Loaf

1 lb. ground beef, $2.38
1 med. onion, chopped fine, 25¢
1/2 green pepper, chopped fine, 40¢
2 T. flour, 1¢
1 egg, 13¢
2 T. Worcestershire sauce, 14¢
1 1/2 T. salt, minimal
1 t. pepper, minimal
1 sm. can tomato sauce, 39¢

Mix ground beef, onion, green pepper, flour, egg, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper in large bowl until combined well. While messy, it’s easiest to mix by hand. Divide mixture in half and press into two large patties. Place in large skillet. Cover and cook over medium heat until cooked through, turning occasionally. Pour on tomato sauce. Cook uncovered until sauce comes to boil, turning once. Serve with mashed potatoes and green beans, if desired.

TOTAL COST: $3.70

To save the cost of buying sodas, make a large pitcher of iced tea to go with your meals.

Sweet Southern Tea

8 tea bags, 16¢
1 c. sugar, 24¢
water

Pour about 2 quarts water into a large sauce pan. Add sugar and mix well. Bring to boil, stirring often until sugar dissolves completely. Add tea bags. Return to boil and boil for 1-5 minutes depending on how strong you like your tea. Remove from heat and let set about 15 minutes. Pour into 2-quart pitcher. Add ice and cold water to fill. Stir until ice is fully melted. Serve in glasses filled with ice.

TOTAL COST: 40¢

Healthy Eating on a Frugal Budget

August 28, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Frugal Meals · Comments Off on Healthy Eating on a Frugal Budget 

You can ask most any frugal mom and she’ll tell you that eating healthy, especially on a budget, is a challenge. But finding healthy, frugal foods that our families will eat is possible. It may be that we have to change the way we think about cooking and menu planning, but there are ways to eat healthy and not spend a fortune.

• Avoid frying. Not only does frying add extra fat and calories, but fried foods are the least healthy choices we can make. In the “old days,” when our parents and grandparents worked the farm, or did all their chores and housework manually, eating fried foods wasn’t the issue it is today. Our ancestors got in enough aerobic exercise by daily living to burn off the added fat. But for 21st century families whose homes are filled with modern labor-saving devices, we have to be especially careful to eliminate fat from our diets. One way to do this is to considerably reduce the amount of fried foods we eat.

• Choose grilled, broiled or baked. For busy moms, baking or grilling is a quicker, easier cooking method than frying. And it’s much healthier for our families. Learn to crank up the grill or turn on the oven rather than dragging out the frying pan. You’ll save money by buying less cooking oil and coatings, as well as effort and calories. Once you get used to lighter tasting foods, you’ll have a hard time eating fried foods because of the added grease.

• Eat more vegetables. Yeah, yeah, everyone says eat more vegetables. But they say that because it’s true! Vegetables are natural foods that were created to be eaten. Unlike processed foods that are loaded with preservatives, artificial flavorings, and added chemicals, vegetables are food. Period. Even vegetables that are considered high in fat or less healthy than other vegetables (such as avocados) are still natural foods and better than many other food choices we might make.

• Choose raw vegetables when possible. Raw vegetables are the best choice for getting all the vitamins and nutrients our bodies need. Salads, celery sticks, chunks of broccoli and cauliflower, cucumber strips and carrots are excellent choices for eating healthy. And if you grow your own, these good-for-you-foods are totally free!

• Shop produce stands rather than supermarkets. While many frugal moms have acquired a “Wal*Mart mindset” and think that everything we need is cheaper at Wal*Mart, that’s not always the case–especially where fresh fruits and vegetables are concerned. Buying directly from the gardener or farmer at roadside stands or farmers’ markets is often your best bet. You’ll get fresher foods at a lower cost and more times than not, the foods you buy direct from the grower will be organic, compared to over-fertilized foods that have to allow a profit for all the middle men such as distributors, delivery drivers and others that you face when you buy from a store.

• While organic may indeed be healthier, buying products labeled organic is usually not worth the money. Many of the items–especially fresh fruits and vegetables–are no different than what you normally buy. They are just sold by savvy marketers who know the value of the word. Find truly organic items at affordable prices by shopping locally as noted above.

• Don’t shop on an empty stomach. This isn’t as much a healthy eating tip, as a frugal one. But you can better afford to buy healthy foods when you don’t spend your money on ready-to-eat snacks because you’re hungry.

• Buy in bulk. Even if you have to split the cost with a family member or neighbor, you can often save by buying larger quantities of vegetables, in particular.

• Check the “ready to expire” bin for fruits and vegetables to be used immediately or frozen. You never know what you’ll find, but it’s a guarantee you can get things at a fraction of the normal price. The store would usually prefer to recoup at least a portion of their cost than throw the items away.

• Cook as much as you can from scratch. Many convenience foods are no quicker to prepare than foods we make from our own ingredients. For instance, popcorn, muffins, spaghetti sauce, macaroni and cheese and many other foods can be made just as quickly as their pre-packaged counterparts at a fraction of the cost and with less added sugar and preservatives.

• Eat simple foods. Grocers might have us believe that our families need fancy meals and fancy foods to eat well and stay healthy, but that simply isn’t true. Simple foods are not only cheapest, but they are typically healthiest. Avoid high calorie sauces, fancy gravies, and expensive condiments for the healthiest choices at the lowest price.

Dressing up a Plain Hot Dog

August 13, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Frugal Meals · Comments Off on Dressing up a Plain Hot Dog 

While hot dogs may be an all-American meal, plain hot dogs can be… let’s say it… Boring. Frugal moms know how to turn boring into brilliant, though! Here are some ways to dress up that plain dog and make it not only edible, but delectable, for those who don’t want to seem unpatriotic, but who don’t care if they ever see a plain hot dog again!

• Top it off. Make slaw dogs by topping with some slightly sweet, creamy coleslaw, or add sauerkraut for a German flair. Go simple with mustard, ketchup and onions. Or add chili for a to make them more filling.

• Try something different. Add thin slices of hot dogs to pizza, nachos, or other foods. Experiment! You may be surprised what delicious oddities you discover. Here are some recipes to get you started.

Sweet & Sour Hot Dogs

1 pkg. hot dogs
2 T. margarine
1 c. brown sugar, packed
3 T. flour
2 t. dry mustard
1 c. pineapple juice, unsweetened
1 c. pineapple chunks
1/2 c. vinegar
2 t. soy sauce
2 c. cooked rice

Cut hot dogs into 1″ chunks. Brown slightly in butter. Combine brown sugar, flour, mustard, pineapple and juice, vinegar and soy sauce in small bowl. Add to hot dogs. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened, stirring often. Serve hot over rice.

Beans & Franks

1 pkg. hot dogs
2 cans pork & beans
water

Place hot dogs in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil until plump. Cut into 1″ chunks. Return to pan, add pork & beans. Mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes.

Biscuit Pups

1 can biscuit dough
3 hot dogs

Preheat oven to 350° F. Cut each hot dog in three equal pieces. Wrap one biscuit around each hot dog piece (will have one biscuit left over), sealing edges. Bake on ungreased cookie about 10 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.

Mac & Dogs

1 pkg. macaroni & cheese
1 pkg. hot dogs
water

Prepare macaroni & cheese according to package directions. Place hot dogs in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil until plump. Cut into 1″ chunks. Return to pan, add macaroni & cheese. Mix well.

Sauerdogs

1 can sauerkraut
1 pkg. hot dogs
water

Place hot dogs in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil until plump. Cut into 1″ chunks. Return to pan, add sauerkraut. Mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes or until sauerkraut is heated through.

Cheesy Hot Dog Casserole

8 oz. pkg. macaroni
12 oz. (3/4 of pkg.) Velveeta cheese, separated
1/4 c. milk
5 hot dogs, cut into 1″ chunks
1/2 c. tomato, chopped

Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare macaroni & cheese according to package directions and set aside. Cut 8 oz. of the Velveeta into cubes. Cut remainder into slices. Place Velveeta cubes in large saucepan. Add milk. Cook on low heat until cheese is melted, stirring constantly. Add macaroni, hot dogs and tomato to cheese sauce. Mix well. Pour into 13″ x 9″ pan. Bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Layer cheese slices on top. Bake 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted.

Heavenly Hot Dog Hash

6 hot dogs
2 T. vegetable oil
6 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, cut in thin strips
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1/8 t. garlic powder

Boil potatoes until tender. Cut hot dogs into 1″ chunks. Heat vegetable oil in medium skillet. Add remaining ingredients. Cook until potatoes are golden brown.

Surviving Garden Overload

August 13, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Frugal Meals · Comments Off on Surviving Garden Overload 

There’s a recurring condition that happens every year around harvest time. It’s called garden overload. When you find yourself drowning in zucchini, overrun with tomatoes, and so tired of cucumbers you never want to see another one, you’re probably suffering from this common ailment. But don’t despair! You can find ways to use all that wonderful, fresh garden surplus that comes from growing your own garden each year.

• Share! Take a bag of extras to a shut-in, neighbor you don’t see often, a family member or church friend. Look for those who don’t have gardens of their own and they’ll be thrilled to receive your extras.

• Can it. Invest in a canner and some canning jars and start “putting up” food. You’ll have delicious produce all year long. If you can’t afford the canning supplies or equipment, check Freecycle. A friend got three large canners, a strainer and several boxes of jars from someone on her local Freecycle group.

• Freeze some. Freezing is another great way to preserve fruits and vegetables. Check the library for a good book on freezing, if you’ve never done it before. A word of caution, if your power goes out for an extended period of time, there is a chance you could lose all the food you freeze. It helps to have a small generator, or other backup plan if you decide to freeze very much.

• Start baking! Nothing can beat zucchini bread, pumpkin cake or blueberry muffins. Whip up some of your favorite recipes and freeze the results. Then when you have unexpected company or don’t feel like baking, grab one of your homemade goodies and toss it in the microwave.

• Cook up some goodies and preserve them. You can make soups, sauces, salsa, pickles and just about anything else your family eats in large batches and can them for later use. Follow proper canning guidelines for safety!

• Swap with other gardeners. If you know someone with an abundance of corn, trade some of your green beans for a few ears. You’ll both have greater variety and it will save you having to grow every potential vegetable your family would eat. There is actually a website called VeggieTrader that helps you set up local vegetable swaps. This may be an option if you can’t find someone you know to trade with.

• Sell some. Set up a roadside produce stand or take part in a local farmer’s market. All you need is a table, some plastic shopping bags (leftovers from Wal*Mart are great), and change. You’ll want to be sure you’re in the shade so you don’t get a sunburn, and you may want some small produce baskets to measure out your goods. But it’s a great way to make some extra cash, and have fun in the process!

• Donate it to someone in need. Perhaps you have a neighbor who is always struggling financially, or know of a local food pantry or shelter that could use the food. You’ll feel the satisfaction of knowing you’ve helped someone else while solving a problem of your own (too much produce). What could be better than that?

• Dry ’em out. Dried tomatoes are just the thing for pizza and other dishes. And dried fruits such as blueberries make a wonderful snack. Look for recipes and instructions for drying foods and give it a try. This is an especially viable option if you go camping or hiking since dried foods are great to carry along in a backpack.

• Save a few for seeds. While you may think you never want to consider another garden, keep in mind that by next year’s harvest this abundance of food will have been eaten. If you think you might want to try again, then be sure to save some seeds from all your goodies so you can start all over in the spring.

Frugal Three Course Company Menu

August 11, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Cheap Parties · Comments Off on Frugal Three Course Company Menu 

Frugal moms like to entertain occasionally, and enjoy the company of close friends, family and colleagues. But sometimes entertaining can be difficult and expensive, especially if you’re expected to provide a three-course meal. Here’s a simple three course menu of easy-to-make recipes that’s as nice on your pocketbook as it is good to eat.

First Course: Clear Tomato Soup

1 small onion, chopped fine
2 T. butter or margarine
2 c. tomato juice
1 bay leaf
1 t. cloves
dash of basil
1 t. parsley
2 t. sugar
1 T. lemon juice
4 T. fresh cream
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion in butter in a saucepan for about 7 minutes on low heat so they don’t brown. Add tomato juice. Add cloves, basil, bay leaf, sugar and parsley. Bring to a boil and reduce to low heat. Cover and simmer gently for about 15 minutes. Strain. Return soup to pan, add lemon juice and more salt and pepper to taste. Let sit until ready to serve then reheat. Ladle into warm bowls. Add 1 tablespoon cream on top of each.

One of the best things about this soup is that it can be prepared well in advance of the meal then takes only a few minutes to reheat. This frees up your time to prepare the other dishes.

Main Course: Spaghetti Bolognese

1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 clove of garlic, chopped fine or 1/8 t. garlic powder
2 T. olive oil
2 oz. mushrooms, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1 can tomatoes or 4 fresh tomatoes, peeled
2 T. tomato paste
1 t. pepper
12 oz. spaghetti
1 T. butter or margarine
Parmesan cheese

Saute onion and garlic in oil. Add mushrooms, cook and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add ground beef. Stir and cook until blended and meat is well done. Chop tomatoes and add to meat, then add tomato paste and pepper. Mix well. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes.

While sauce is cooking, cook the spaghetti in boiling, salted water for 10-15 minutes or until done. When tender, drain spaghetti, return to pan, adding butter and sprinkling with a dash of pepper. Toss to mix and keep warm over low heat.

Place spaghetti on a large serving dish, top with meat sauce and cheese.

Dessert: Raspberry Coulis

1 pint raspberries
1/4 c. sugar (or Splenda)
Ice Cream

Strain raspberries to remove seeds. Add sugar or sweetener. Mix well. Serve over two scoops of ice cream.

Are Sales and Using Coupons Really Saving You Money?

July 30, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Frugal Meals · Comments Off on Are Sales and Using Coupons Really Saving You Money? 

There is a common misconception that to live frugally, you have to buy products from the grocery store that are on sale, or only buy with coupons, and that you should stock up on these products before the prices shoot back up again. Actually, this isn’t necessarily the case.

The majority of items that grocery stores offer at discounted prices are items that, generally speaking, aren’t at the top of a frugal mom’s shopping list, especially not when money is incredibly tight. These products are usually fattening sweets, cakes, cookies, convenience foods and similar items. And while the sale prices or coupons might seem good at first glance, they’re really not since you probably wouldn’t have bought that item in the first place. So, before you decide to buy lots of something before your coupon expires or the price goes up, consider the following:

• Would you buy it if it wasn’t on sale or if you didn’t have a coupon?

• Is it something that you really need?

• What are the chances that you will actually use what you’re buying?

• Is the product really a good deal?

• What kind of nutritional value does it offer?

Nine times out of ten, these five thoughts are enough to discourage you from buying an item only because it’s on sale or you have a coupon. So, if you shouldn’t necessarily buy products that are enticingly on sale, what should you buy?

• Buy what’s on the menu. Before you step foot in a grocery store, make sure you have planned every meal for your family for the coming week. Make a list of the things you need for each meal. A lot of moms complain they don’t have time to do this, but if it saves you precious money and a lot of wasted food, surely you can find fifteen minutes to write out a simple menu.

• Check your cabinets and pantry to see if you have products that are about to expire or that really need to be eaten. If something has been in the cabinet awhile, add it to your menu in some way. If needed, buy something to go with a product you have on hand that needs to be used.

• If at all possible do your grocery shopping the last thing in the evening. Get there about an hour before the store closes (or if you shop at a 24-hour store, try going in the late evening). This is the best time to great discounts on fresh produce and meat that’s about to expire. Stores need to get rid of these items quickly so they don’t “eat” the cost themselves and you can easily throw something in the freezer until you’re ready to cook it.

• Refrain from buying name brand products. Buy store brands instead. A lot of the time the store brands are the same high quality as the name brand alternatives, and are, in fact, often manufactured in the same factories. The only difference is that the store brand is normally a lot less in price.

• Don’t buy convenience foods such as frozen fries. They’re typically a waste of money since – not only are they expensive – but they only last a couple of meals and are full of fats and additives. Instead, opt for a large bag of potatoes and make your own. A bag of fresh potatoes can last an average family well over a week, so they’re definitely more cost effective.

• If you find yourself throwing out milk because you didn’t drink it quick enough, consider buying long-life powdered milk instead. If you mix it slightly stronger than the recipe calls for and chill it before use, you can hardly tell the difference. Especially if your family doesn’t drink a lot of milk.

• Only buy as much fresh fruit and vegetables as you know your family can eat in a week. And don’t be afraid to separate a bunch of bananas in the store, for example, if you don’t need that many. Providing them in a large bunch is often a ploy to get you to buy a more than you really need.

Feeding your family for less can be a challenge, but with careful thought, education and planning you will be amazed at how much you can save at the grocery store.

Quick & Delicious Meals with 4 Ingredients or Less

July 15, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Frugal Meals · 1 Comment 

If you’re looking for ways to save money when cooking at home, the simpler the recipe, the better. In fact, using four ingredients or less will almost ensure you a frugal meal to feed your family. Some of the recipes you cook on a regular basis would probably fit in this category. Here are some of our favorites gleaned from years of use. Rest assured, these simple dinners will also meet with family approval so you don’t have to worry about leftovers!

The Quickest Tacos

1 lb. ground beef.
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
1 pkg. tortilla shells

Brown and crumble the ground beef in a medium skillet. RInse and drain to remove added fat. Add the taco seasoning. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Heat the tortilla shells in the oven or on top of the stove. You can add shredded cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, etc. if desired, but it’s not necessary.

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Manwich® Sandwiches

1 lb. ground beef.
1 can Manwich®
1 pkg. hamburger buns

Brown and crumble the ground beef in a medium skillet. RInse and drain to remove added fat. Add the Manwich® sauce. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Serve on hamburger buns. You can add mustard, dill pickle slices, and potato chips if desired, but it’s not necessary.

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Easy Chicken Pot Pie

1 can shredded chicken
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can whole potatoes, chopped
1 roll crescent roll dough

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 8″ x 8″ square baking pan with cooking oil spray. Unroll and spread half of the crescent roll dough in the bottom of the pan. Mix chicken, soup and potatoes. Pour into pan. Top with remaining dough. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. You can add a can of mixed vegetables and a chopped onion, if desired, but it’s not necessary.

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Waldorf Chicken Salad Subs

1 pint prepared chicken salad (from the deli)
1 apple, sliced thin
4 slices sharp cheddar cheese
4 sub rolls

Place 1/4 of the chicken salad on each sub roll. Add 3 of the apple slices and 1 slice of cheese. You can add 10-12 grape halves and 2 T. chopped nuts to the salad before use, and serve with potato chips, if desired, but it’s not necessary.

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Crock Pot Italian Beef Subs

1 chuck roast
1 c. Italian salad dressing
6-8 sub rolls

Spray crock pot with vegetable cooking spray. Trim all fat from roast and place in crock pot. Add salad dressing. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or until meat falls apart. Shred meat. Serve on sub rolls with about 1 T. juice added to each. You can serve with pepperoncini or jalapeno peppers, if desired, but it’s not necessary.

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Hamcos

1 lb. ground beef.
1 pkg. tortilla shells
1 tomato, chopped fine
shredded cheese

Brown and crumble the ground beef in a medium skillet. RInse and drain to remove added fat. Return to stove and heat thoroughly. Heat the tortilla shells in the oven or on top of the stove. Serve on tortillas with tomato and shredded cheese. You can add shredded lettuce and sour cream, if desired, but it’s not necessary.

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Chili Slaw Dogs

1 pkg. hot dogs
1 pint prepared Cole slaw (from the deli)
1 can chili
1 pkg. hot dog buns

Place hot dogs in medium sauce pan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil 5-10 minutes or until hot dogs are thoroughly done and plump. Heat chili. Serve hot dogs on buns with chili and slaw. You can add mustard, ketchup, relish, etc. and serve with potato chips, if desired, but it’s not necessary.

As you can see, these are truly simple recipes. Hopefully, they’ll get you thinking about other meals you can prepare that are quick, frugal, healthy and delicious!

Save Money with Crock Pot Cooking

July 10, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Frugal Meals · Comments Off on Save Money with Crock Pot Cooking 

Looking for ways to make frugal meals for your family? Fall in love with your crock pot! Not only is it easy to use and clean, it allows you to purchase less expensive cuts of meat and still come out with tender, juicy, delicious meals for your family. Here are some recipes that will almost guarantee you’ll learn to love your crockpot after the very first one you try.

Crock Pot Apple Cobbler
(Courtesy Free Quick Recipes)

4 med. apples, peeled, cored and sliced semi-thick
1/4 c. honey
1 t. cinnamon
2 T. butter, melted
2 c. granola cereal

Topping:
2 T. granola cereal
ice cream

Place all ingredients in crock pot. Mix well. Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours. Sprinkle with granola and top with ice cream, if desired.

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Crock Pot Pork Chops & Potatoes

4-6 pork chops
6 potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 can mushroom soup

Trim fat from pork chops. Layer chops, potatoes and onion in crock pot in that order, making 2-3 layers of each depending on size of your crock pot. Spread with mushroom soup. Cover and cook on low 5-6 hours or until meat is tender.

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Crock Pot Cabbage Soup

1 onion, chopped
1 green peppers, chopped
1 can tomatoes, chopped
6 potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 carrots, sliced
1 small can mushrooms
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 head cabbage, chopped
1 pkg. onion soup mix
1 can bouillon or chicken broth
1 small can vegetable juice
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 t. parsley
1/8 t. garlic powder
water

Place all ingredients in crock pot. Add about 8 c. of water to completely cover all ingredients. Mix well. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until vegetables are tender.

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10 Can Vegetable Beef Stew
(Courtesy Free Quick Recipes)

1 lb beef stew meat, cubed
2 t. flour
2 cans whole potatoes, drained
1 can sliced carrots, drained
1 can lima beans, drained
1 can peas, drained
1 can green beans, drained
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can diced tomatoes with liquid
1 bay leaf
1 large can V8 juice
salt & pepper to taste

Coat beef with flour, salt and pepper. Place in crock pot. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours.

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Little Smokies in a Crock

1 pkg. Little Smokies
1/2 c. grape jelly

Place Little Smokies in crock pot. Add jelly. Cover and cook on low for 2-3 hours.

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Cowboy Casserole

1/2 c. onion, chopped
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
6 potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 can tomatoes
2 T. flour
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1/8 t. garlic powder

Brown ground beef. Rinse and drain. Place in crock pot. Cover with onion, potatoes and pinto beans. Mix tomatoes, flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder in small bowl. Add to crock pot. Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours.

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Easy Beans & Franks

1 lb. hot dogs
2 cans pork & beans
1 small onion, chopped fine

Cut hot dogs in 1″ slices. Place all ingredients in crock pot. Mix well. Cover and cook on low 2-4 hours.

Feed a Family of Four for Less Than $5 Per Meal

June 17, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Frugal Meals · Comments Off on Feed a Family of Four for Less Than $5 Per Meal 

Feeding a family is a growing challenge in a world where grocery prices rise nearly every week. But you can eat well and still stay within your budget by planning your meals in advance and choosing simple, low-cost options. Here are five frugal recipes that will let you feed a family of four for under $5 per meal. And you can’t beat a deal like that!

NOTE: Prices are estimates and will vary depending on region, available sales, etc.

Budget Crock Pot Swiss Steak & Rice

1 lb. beef cubed steak, $1.75 on sale (can use round steak or venison cutlets, whichever is cheapest)
1 can cream of mushroom soup, 49¢
8 oz. can tomato sauce, 69¢
cooking oil spray, minimal
2 cups regular cooked rice, 68¢

Cut meat into four equal pieces. Remove any excess fat. Spray crock pot with cooking oil spray. Place meat in bottom of crock pot. Mix soup and tomato sauce with a whisk or a fork until well blended. Pour over meat. Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours or until meat is tender. Prepare rice as directed on box. Serve meat over rice. Makes 4 servings.

TOTAL COST: $3.61

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Sloppy Joes

1 lb. ground turkey, $1.19 (can use ground beef)
1 can Manwich®, $1.19
8 hamburger buns, 99¢

Brown ground turkey, drain. Add Manwich®. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve on hamburger buns. Makes 8 sandwiches.

OPTIONAL: Serve with mustard, pickles, and potato chips, if desired.

TOTAL COST: $3.37

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TexMex Burritos

1 lb. ground turkey, $1.19 (can use ground beef)
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix, 79¢
1/4 c. water, minimal
1 can refried beans, 99¢
1 pkg 10 large flour tortillas, $1.89

Brown ground turkey, drain. Add taco seasoning, water and refried beans. Mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Heat tortillas in oven or on stove top. Spoon mixture onto warm tortillas. Makes 10 burritos.

OPTIONAL: Serve with lettuce, tomatoes, and shredded cheese, if desired.

TOTAL COST: $4.86

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Quick & Easy Potato Soup

8 medium potatoes, coarsely diced, $1.20
1 medium onion, coarsely diced, 49¢
1 stalk celery, chopped fine, 10¢
water, minimal
Salt and Pepper to taste, 3¢
Oyster crackers or saltines, 99¢

Place potatoes, onion and celery in medium size saucepan and cover with water. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes until soup thickens. Serve hot with oyster crackers or saltines. Makes about 4 cups.

TOTAL COST: $2.81

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Semi-Homemade Spaghetti

1 lb. ground turkey, $1.19 (can use ground beef)
1 lb. spaghetti, $1.19
1 jar, store brand spaghetti sauce, 99¢
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped, 25¢
water

Brown ground turkey, drain. Add spaghetti sauce and onion. Mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until onion is very tender. Cook spaghetti as directed on package. Spoon sauce over spaghetti. Serves 4 or more.

OPTIONAL: Serve with a salad and oven toasted bread sprinkled with garlic powder.

TOTAL COST: $3.62

10 Restaurant-Style Meals You can Create At Home

December 13, 2008 · Filed Under Frugal Meals · Comments Off on 10 Restaurant-Style Meals You can Create At Home 

Experimental VodkaCreative Commons License photo credit: jvree

We all know that eating out costs much more than eating at home no matter how you look at it. Therefore, a great way to save money, is by recreating your favorite restaurant-style meals at home, allowing you to eat them more often, and save money at the same time.

The following are ten restaurant-style meals that you can easily create at home:

1. Chinese takeout. From fried rice to stir fry Chinese takeout can easily be recreated at home, especially with the vast array of items available in your local store’s international foods section, you can practically be in a different country every night of the week.

2. Mexican Fiesta. Let another night create your own Mexican fare. Anything from tacos, to nachos or enchiladas, each can be recreated at home to calm your craving without paying restaurant prices.

3. Gourmet Sandwiches. There are dozens and dozens of them out there today from the gyro, to the muffaletta you can pick your sandwich apart at your favorite local gourmet deli, take a mental note and then recreate it next time at home.

4. Greek food. Greek food is hearty and contains some key healthy ingredients including spinach, meat, usually lamb or veal, feta cheese and every Greek’s favorite, garlic, and lots of it.

5. Homemade Pizza.
Many times you can create a better pizza than you can buy as take-out. You can test and try until you create one that is as yummy as take-out or better.

6. Gumbo.
It is a Cajun tradition and a stick to your bones type food. You can find some yummy recipes for it online or can even buy the boxed variety, though homemade is better. You can choose to create the seafood type or just use chicken and sausage, either way you’ll have a yummy meal for less than the restaurant.

7. Better burgers.
You know every restaurant has it’s own variety and you can create your favorite at home, grab your grill, the meat, special buns and other condiments and build your best burger ever!

8. Catfish Dinner. In the deep south especially, a meal out at a catfish house is quite popular. Fried catfish is yummy but can be costly if eaten out. Whip up your own catfish dinner at home, and don’t forget the fries, hushpuppies and slaw.

9. Steak Dinner. Firing up the grill and preparing your own steak can result in a wonderful meal. Most times you can buy two steaks for the price of what you’ll pay in a restaurant, sides included.

10. Appetizers as a meal. We all have a favorite appetizer. Whether it be the buffalo wings or the spinach and artichoke dip. Why not create a whole meal based on your favorite appetizers? It could turn out to be a family favorite.

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